Karrissa Cox and Richard Carter were only trying to be good parents. So how did their concern for their newborn baby end with the child being taken away and adopted by another family... all on charges of child abuse that have since been disproved?
As the Mirror reports, Cox and Carter took their six-week-old to the hospital after finding blood in the baby's mouth after a feeding. Doctors noticed that the baby had bruising and what appeared to be fractures, and alerted the authorities of possible abuse. Within days, both parents had been charged with child cruelty and the baby was taken into state custody.
For three long years, the couple maintained their innocence. This week, a court finally cleared them of the charges as new evidence showed that there were no signs of abuse. The child had been found to suffer from a Vitamin D deficiency (which can cause rickets and lead to fractures) as well as a blood disorder called Von Willebrand II (which causes victims to bruise easily). Those health problems explained the injuries that had alarmed the medical staff and proved that the parents had not hurt their baby after all.
The parents' relief was short. Though their names have been cleared, it does them little good. In the years that they have been fighting the charges, their baby was fostered by another family and eventually adopted without their consent.
“Every part of my body felt like it was being ripped away from this earth,” said Richard Carter, describing the despair he felt when his baby was taken away. 'My body was in pain I had never felt before.
Karrissa Cox couldn't comprehend the fact that doing the right thing for her baby's health had resulted in losing her child.
“I broke down in tears. I couldn’t believe it. I was thinking, 'Why us, what have we done?'” she told BBC News. “We hadn’t done anything different to normal parents but we were being punished for something we hadn’t done.”
Both Carter and Cox say that they plan to fight adoption and regain custody of their child, but legal authorities warn that their chances of success are slim. British courts very rarely overturn adoptions.
According to the Daily Mail, there has even been a push to speed up adoptions and other family court cases. This may explain why the adoption of the couple's child took place in March, seven months before their abuse case was dropped.
“We took our child to the hospital and they stole our baby from us,” said Karrissa Cox. “That was the hardest news we ever had to face. We had no say, no choice. The judge just granted the adoption.”
Though they have been advised that they are unlikely to win, the parents say that they won't give up trying to get their child back. Karrissa Cox says that the experience has put her off the idea of having more children, for fear that it could happen again.
A representative of the Court has stated that all of their decisions— including removing the baby from the parents and the adoption— were made with the welfare of the child in mind. Others, however, are quick to point out the “scandalous” result of charging the parents with abuse before a full investigation was completed.
“These innocent parents have been spared a criminal conviction and a prison sentence for a crime they never committed,” said Michael Turner, the parents' defense attorney. 'Their life sentence is that they are likely never to see their baby again."
Richard Carter says, “We will fight ‘til our last breath. No parent should go through this ever.”